Morocco reshuffles cabinet, keeps foreign and finance ministers

A police officer stands near a Moroccan national flag. (photo: Reuters)
Updated 09 October 2019

Morocco reshuffles cabinet, keeps foreign and finance ministers

  • King Mohammed VI approved the list of new ministers submitted by Prime Minister Saad Dine El Otmani
  • The tourism, housing, youth and culture, employment, justice and health ministers were changed

RABAT: Morocco announced a cabinet reshuffle on Wednesday, reducing the number of jobs to 23 but keeping the foreign, finance and interior ministers in their posts.
King Mohammed VI approved the list of new ministers submitted by Prime Minister Saad Dine El Otmani, state news agency MAP reported, after having asked him in the summer to arrange a reshuffle.
The tourism, housing, youth and culture, employment, justice and health ministers were changed, but the interior, religious affairs, agriculture, energy, trade and industry and education ministers stayed in place.
El Otmani’s moderate Islamist PJD party has seven cabinet posts in the newly configured government, while the liberal RNI led by business tycoon Aziz Akhannouch has four, including his own appointment to agriculture.
The socialist PPS party withdrew last week from the coalition over what it described as political disagreements.
Many of the new ministers are technocrats without clear party affiliation, a development that some analysts say shows the influence of the palace in appointing strategic portfolios, while political parties are marginalized. “In the constitution, Morocco is a constitutional monarchy, but in reality it is close to an executive monarchy,” said Mohamed Masbah of the Independent Moroccan Institute for Policy Analysis (MIPA).
Morocco is seeking a new development model to fight poverty and curb regional and social disparities.
The north African country has largely been insulated from the turmoil that hit North Africa and the Middle East since the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011, although it regularly sees protests over economic and social problems.


US accuses Turkey of war crimes in Syria

Updated 24 October 2019

US accuses Turkey of war crimes in Syria

  • Trump’s envoy demands explanation from Ankara of possible use of illegal white phosphorus munitions during the Turkish invasion
  • Envoy also expresses concerns about anti-Assad fighters backed by Turkish forces.

JEDDAH: The US demanded an explanation from Ankara on Wednesday for what it described as “war crimes” committed during Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria.

President Donald Trump’s special envoy for Syria, James Jeffrey, said there were concerns about anti-Assad fighters backed by Turkish forces.

“Many people fled because they’re very concerned about these Turkish-supported Syrian opposition forces, as we are. We’ve seen several incidents which we consider war crimes,” the envoy told a House of Representatives hearing.

He said the US was also investigating the possible use of illegal white phosphorus munitions during the Turkish invasion, and wanted an explanation from Turkey’s government “at a high level.”

Jeffrey described Turkey’s invasion to drive Syrian Kurdish YPG fighters out of the border area as “a tragic disaster for northeast Syria.”

Meanwhile Russian military police began patrols on the Syrian border on Wednesday, following an agreement on Tuesday between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The Kremlin told Kurdish fighters to pull back or face being attacked again by Turkish forces.

“It’s quite obvious that if the Kurdish units don’t withdraw with their weapons then Syrian border guards and Russian military police will have to step back. And the remaining Kurdish units will be steamrolled by the Turkish army,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

In Washington, Trump said a US-negotiated cease-fire between Turkey and the Kurds would be permanent, and he lifted US sanctions on Ankara. “We’ve saved the lives of many, many Kurds,” he said.

Turkey considers the YPG terrorists because of their links to PKK insurgents in Turkey. It has demanded they retreat from the entire border region, creating a 30-km-deep “safe zone” where Turkey could also settle some of the 3.6 million Syrian refugees on its soil.

The new agreement allows Turkey to control that area. On Wednesday, Turkish-backed Syrian fighters in Ras Al-Ain unfurled their flag on top of the Kurdish fighters’ former HQ.